Connecting the Dots

I secretly have a crush on one of the areas of the Cascades. It is a space between Mt Hood and Mt Jefferson called the Bull of the Woods. I repeatedly find myself and my backpacking traipsing through the lush forest, hopping over creeks and enjoying the endless display of natural beauty.

IMG_0638Last week, I took a friend into the woods with me. We left after work Tuesday evening (10:00 PM) and got to a base camp in the Bull of the Woods around 1:00. We set up tent and tucked into our sleeping gear for a night’s sleep. At around 3:00am, we realized it had started to snow. It was a light accumulation which was a pleasure to wake up to.

IMG_0705We woke up later than we had anticipated, ate a delicious breakfast of a fried egg in a tortilla wrap, had some hot coffee and packed up the tent into our packs. It took about another 20 minutes to get to the Pansy Basin trailhead.

IMG_0633From Pansy Basin Trail, we climbed up trail # 551 to #549 to #550. We stopped at the boarded up Lookout Tower. There were a lot of clouds so the view was less than stellar. We then hiked down trail #554 to #553 and camped at Big Slide Lake. As it was mid-week, there were no other humans around. We spent the afternoon eating lots of food and playing cards.

IMG_0672The following day, the sun came out and we were blessed with some blue skies! We climbed back up to the tower for some spectacular views. The panoramic picture shows the mountains from Mt Rainier in WA all the way down to the Three Sisters in central/south Oregon. (Click on the photo, then enlarge it. You’ll have a great picture of the cascade mountain range)

IMG_0639From the tower, we headed down towards Welcome Lakes and the Mother Lode on trail #558, then caught trail #551 back to Pansy Basin. We camped at the lake. It was beautiful and quiet. We had guests show up later in the evening with their extremely friendly and adventurous dogs. They camped at one of the spots closer to the trailhead.

Pansy Lake

Pansy Lake

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The following morning, we packed up early and headed back to the trailhead, then back to the city to go to work.

Big Slide Lake

Big Slide Lake

Big Slide Lake

Big Slide Lake

This trek connected a lot of the other trails I had already been through, thus completing most of the trails section I’ve already trekked in the Bull of the Woods. Two more trails to go and I will have completed the whole area.

I love wilderness escapes!IMG_0699

Happy Trekking!

Denny & SamIMG_0658 IMG_0627

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GORGEous day!

IMG_5336Today I went with Tim and hike two peaks in the Columbia Gorge. The day was spectacular. A warm early spring has reached the NorthWest, and though we are pining for snow on our mountains, it makes for great hiking weather.

Indian Point can be found off of exit 44 on Route 84 heading East from Portland. You’ll need a Northwest Forest Pass to park. This is a great day hike and training hike for putting in miles and elevation, plus it offers some spectacular views of the gorge on clear days.

The trail starts at the Herman Creek trailhead and there are a couple of ways you can get to the side trail to Indian Point. We took the Gordon Creek Trail which was a steady climb UP to the small turnoff to Indian Point. The small trail to the point offers a great view of the point, and a warning that if you have any fear of heights at all, then this is about as far as you will go.

IMG_5340We worked our way out step by step on the the increasingly loose talus pile that fell off in what seemed to be every direction possible. There was one indian pit where we hunkered down and ate our lunch, which is ironic as these were the places they would send the coming of age to fast themselves into hallucination. (Hey, that’s the story I heard and I’m sticking to it).

IMG_5343There is a small point at the end of the of the trail which I wouldn’t climb for the price of anything. .  Tim was nervous enough looking at it, I’m sure it was eminent death.

IMG_5350We made our way out by hiking out down the Nick Eaton Ridge Trail. It was a lovely switchbacking descent back to the base of the gorge where the parking lot was. We took a short drive to Mitchell Point where Tim needed to redeem a himself of a picture he attempted to take last Thursday but failed.

IMG_5354This is exit 58 off of 84 East. A few short turns here and there will get you there. This hike is quite short, just about 2 miles round trip, but it is a very steady UP, over 1000 ft elevation gain in a mile. Again, the views of the gorge offered here are quite lovely, and as long as heights don’t keep you frozen, you can sit up top and enjoy the spectacular Columbia River Gorge.

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Happy Trails!

Denny